Boise State student joins select company with prestigious award

Cheyon Sheen joined elite company last month when she became one of 62 Truman graduate scholarship winners out of 705 nominees from 275 universities. Sheen, Boise State’s sixth-ever Truman Scholar, impressed the federal agency’s Seattle regional review panel with her sustained commitment to public service on and beyond campus.

“Chey impressed our Seattle regional review panel with her sustained commitment to investing in rural Idaho,” Truman executive secretary Terry Babcock-Lumish said in an email. “In particular, she takes care to engage and advocate for those whose voices may not always be heard, including rural Americans, Tribal communities, and wildlife.”

Sheen gives credit to others for earning this prestigious award.

“It wasn’t just because I worked hard ,” Sheen said in a conversation with EdNews. “I had all these people who cared about me, an entire army that supported me in achieving my ambitious goals.”

Ever since she arrived on campus three years ago, Sheen has been committed to forging engineering innovation and public policy in effort to create a more equitable, sustainable society. After her freshman year, for example, Sheen won the Hometown Challenge Scholarship to mitigate air pollution at her Twin Falls roots.

As an Andrus Scholar, Sheen also worked with Tribal Nations to conduct research on juvenile salmon populations. Her work focused on collecting data to gain a deeper understanding of how to prioritize restoration efforts effectively, aiming to optimize habitat utilization and ultimately benefit the salmon population.

Although she already speaks four languages, Sheen took up another language this past school year. Never having coded before, Sheen worked with PhD students to create a machine learning model that measures suspended sediment concentrations using remote sensing. The objective was to develop an open-source and accessible sediment detection method that can be readily accessed by stakeholders, government agencies, land managers, and citizen scientists. The purpose of this endeavor is to provide these diverse groups with practical tools to effectively detect sediment along the tributaries of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“Working on rivers was a great way for me to see how policy affects environmental work and how I can put my technical skills to work to positively impact land managers,” Sheen said.

As a Truman Scholar, Sheen will receive up to $30,000 for graduate school, participate in the foundation’s leadership development activities and be allowed access to special internship and employment opportunities with the federal government. Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years after completing a graduate program.

Sheen will spend her senior year deciding on her next steps. Truman Scholars have a four-year gap before they are required to enroll in graduate school, time which Sheen could spend working and applying for further public service. Not coincidentally, Sheen will spend her senior year at Boise State working for her peers as the newly-elect associated student body president.

“It’s super important for me to help facilitate and create communities where Boise State students can thrive,” Sheen said.
Towards that end, Sheen will work together with her running mate, now vice president Jason Holman, to create a more egalitarian, inclusive BSU campus.

Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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